Jim Bly was practically “enrolled at the UA when I was born,” or so goes an old family joke, he says. With a history at the University of Arizona that long, it only made sense for Jim to return to his alma mater and become an alumni docent after several years of practicing law and working for the state of Arizona.
A native Arizonan, Jim’s father also graduated from the University of Arizona. Following in his dad’s footsteps just made sense. It made so much sense, in fact, that Jim did so twice. In 1968, he first earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Upon graduation, he was drafted and spent two years in the military. Later, he returned to the UA to study at the James E. Rogers College of Law. Afterward, he practiced law with a small firm in Tucson from 1974 until 1992, when he got a job as an administrative law judge for the Motor Vehicle Division.
In 2007, Jim retired to his home, just two blocks from the UA Visitor Center. He began volunteering as an alumni docent in spring 2008.
“I like the campus, I like the history, and I like talking to people. So, I volunteered,” Jim says.
The Visitor Center offers docent-led tours to general visitors and members of the Tucson community who are interested in learning more about the UA. Tours focus on a range of subjects, from sustainability efforts on campus to public art. The UA History Tour, in particular, offers visitors a guided tour through the campus’ history from the perspective of alumni like Jim.
“I love introducing people to the campus,” says Jim. “I think the university is a great university, and I’m glad I can contribute, however small a contribution it is.”
He has been a volunteer docent for about three years now, and says he enjoys each tour on an individual basis.
“Every group is different. They have different interests. They ask different questions. They have different reactions to what they see on campus,” he says. “That’s what makes it interesting.”